History and Social Studies Department

The History Department strives to prepare our students for high school, college and life. We work to inspire engaged critical thinkers and globally minded citizens, who can synthesize information about the past and present to understand the breadth and depth of the human experience.

Middle School Program

The middle school curriculum is intended to introduce students to methods of historical thinking, broaden their knowledge of the past, and understand how the past influences the present world. In each course, students will be exposed to primary and secondary sources, relevant literature, contemporary news sources, and cross­ curricular investigation.

Upper School Program

The graduation requirement for history is four years. Students should take World History I during their freshman year. The sophomore year will be split between World History II, and American History I. During their junior year, students will take either U.S. History II or Advanced U.S. History, which is intended to prepare students for the Advanced Placement test. During their junior year students will also complete the Founders' Paper, on any topic of their choice in U.S. History, as a graduation requirement; this paper is intended to prepare students for the rigor of college writing. In their senior year, students will take Introduction to Philosophy, and may choose to take another history elective.

Middle School History & Social Studies Classes

+ Grade 6 - World Cultures I - Geography

Grade 6 will systematically study the physical and political geography of the world, focusing on key themes of location, place, region, human­environment interaction, and movement. Students will also study the earliest development of civilizations in preparation for the study of the ancient world in Grade 7.

+ Grade 7 - World Cultures II - Ancient Civilizations

This course provides an overview of world history and geography with an emphasis on the study of the development of civilizations from the earliest hunter­gatherers through the Roman civilization in 500 A.D. Material is presented in a multidisciplinary format with an emphasis on the religions, governments, trade, philosophies, and art of these cultures.

+ Grade 8 - American History

This course presents major events in American history, beginning with the study of the earliest known inhabitants of the continent. Students will progress through the era of European exploration, and study the great trading empires of Africa and the East, Europe’s discovery and exploration of the American continent, the founding of the American colonies, the American War of Independence, the creation of the U.S. Constitution, and the early years of the nation up to the Civil War.

Upper School History & Social Studies Classes

+ Grade 9 - World History I

Beginning with the hunter/gatherer societies of the Paleolithic Era, this course will trace the development of the modern nation state. Through the examination of diverse regions of the world, students will begin to see how factors such as geography, culture, colonization and even heroic individual efforts created the political world that we know today.

+ Grade 10 - World History II - Semester 1: The Renaissance Through the Twentieth Century

This course will examine the political, social and economic events of world history and how they have influenced the contemporary world. The class will begin with the Renaissance period and its lasting importance today, and continue into the twentieth century.

+ Grade 10 - United States History I - Semester 2: Colonization to the Jefferson Era

Beginning with a study of Atlantic history, students will examine the history of England alongside the development of its American Colonies. Students will begin to see how events in England shaped the lives of the early colonists and eventually led to the American Revolution. Following the revolution, students will examine the early controversy over how to best govern the newly independent colonies. Extra focus is given to the development of critical thinking, historical research, and writing skills.

+ Grade 11 - United States History II - The Jefferson Era to the Vietnam Era

This course provides a comprehensive analysis of American history from the Jeffersonian era up until American involvement in Indochina. Students will gain an understanding of how America evolved from a small, isolationist nation to its modern role as an interventionist superpower. The course will focus both on events within the country during this time period, as well as events on the international scene that merited United States involvement. The Founders’ History Paper is a course and graduation requirement.

+ Grade 11 - Advanced United States History

This is an in-depth analysis of America from pre-colonial times to the present with an emphasis on facts, as well as concepts to prepare students for the AP exam. The course has a rigorous reading requirement, including the challenging text The American Pageant. The Founders’ History Paper is a course and graduation requirement.

+ Grades 11-12 - Latin American Studies

This course will examine the history, culture, economics and government for each Latin American country. It begins with a study of cultures in Latin America prior to the 16th century. Students then learn about the European "discovery" of Latin America and how this affected those native to and living in the western hemisphere. The course then examines how Latin American countries received their independence, how the countries set up their governments and their economies after the Europeans were forced to leave, and what effect the United States had on Latin America. Students are assessed by tests and presentations about an assigned Latin American nation’s culture and historical background.

+ Grade 12 - Philosophy

Philosophy asks us to examine questions central to the human experience by looking below the surface and questioning those things we most often take for granted. This course will examine three fundamental questions:

  1. “What is knowledge and can we have it?”
  2. “What is ultimate reality?”
  3. “Is there such a thing as right and wrong and, if so, what makes things right or wrong? Students will seek answers to these questions using one of the most important methods in philosophy- the method of argumentation. By the end of the course, students will be better at understanding why they believe what they believe, reading difficult texts independently, identifying central arguments in texts, understanding what has to be true for something else to be true, finding contradictions in widely held opinions, and expressing themselves clearly orally and in writing.